Argentina’s far-right and pro-Bitcoin (BTC) candidate, Javier Milei has failed to clinch victory in the first round of voting trailing biggest rival and Economic Minister Sergio Massa.
After 97% of votes cast counted on Sunday, Massa won the first round with 36.6% of votes while Milei trailed in second with 30% of the total 26.3 million votes cast in the polls.
Patricia Bullrich, a former security minister came up third in the first round with 23.8% of the votes.
Most Milei supporters expected him to win outright in the same fashion as Brazil’s Bolsonaro in 2018 with his radical economic policies and views of inflation and the central bank’s fiscal policies.
According to the electoral law, a candidate must score 45% of votes or 40% of votes with a 10-point lead over the second candidate to clinch victory in the first round. Massa and Milei will participate in the runoff election on November 19.
Many observers especially around crypto circles described the results as a little unexpected because Milei won the most votes in the primary elections, placing him as the front-runner leading up to the polls.
A battle for the economy
Amidst other issues gaining the attention of both candidates in the race to the polls, the country’s economy remained on top as it suffered from triple-digit inflation.
Milei, an anti-central bank candidate, viewed the issue as stemming from several factors including the size of the government, corrupt officials, and the central bank.
Referring to the central bank as a scam and fiat as a means for government corruption, he plans to abolish the country’s top bank and move along with the U.S. dollar against the country’s peso.
On the other hand, Massa the Economy Minister criticized Milei’s views on the central bank and dollarization calling on patriots to reject the move and support the nation’s home currency.
Massa pitched the idea of floating a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) rather than Bitcoin to spur economic growth in the country. According to him, the CBDC will widen the nation’s tax net and improve the country’s fiscal policies.
The Argentine Central Bank has also backed the move revealing that works are in motion for a legislative bill around the digital currency “as soon as possible.”
Milei urges supporters on
The results leave citizens and the economy at a crossroads for the next month as both leading citizens have different economic paths.
Milei told his supporters to celebrate this milestone as the party La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advance) was founded two years ago adding that two-thirds of the country voted for change and it’s either the country changes or sinks.
“We’re going to decide whether we can make Argentina a power again or turn ourselves into the biggest shanty town on Earth.”
Massa vowed to kickstart a new phase in the country’s history promising a country without failing the people and free from uncertainty.